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A Million Ways to Die in the West Review: Reducing Great Jokes to Mere Chuckles

A Million Ways to Die In the West

Rating:
Star2
Star
Star
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A Million Ways to Reduce Gut Busting Jokes to Mere Chuckles.
Perhaps it was seeing this film with an unresponsive audience that barely reached the double digits, but A Million Ways to Die in the West just wasn’t as funny as it could have been. It was mildly clever and made an admirable effort to parody the conventions of the Western genre, but didn’t quite achieve the fine genre bending line of Cabin is the Woods, the Cornetto Trilogy, or even This is the End (Seth MacFarlane most likely was not trying to achieve the genre bending level of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard or Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg, but he was at least trying to go for the broad comedy genre bending of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg). The trailer for this film is absolutely hilarious. The jokes in it are delivered in a way that had the audience in tears from laughing so hard.
The plot of the actual film felt like it was shoe-horned around a lot of funny jokes (seen in the trailer, but not as funny in the actual film). Toward the end it felt like Seth MacFarlane added an additional unnecessary twenty minutes because he forgot to add in a particular joke. Seth MacFarlane is certainly good at telling absurdly funny stories. His ‘plots’ work well for half hour (with commercials) episodes of Family Guy. He even made his style work in a feature length format with Ted two years ago. The need to drag out the jokes in A Million Ways to Die in the West caused a film that could have competed with Neighbors for the honor for being the summer’s funniest film to being something that at least isn’t as obnoxious as the latest Adam Sandler effort. Charlize Theron and Liam Neeson both showed potential in their performances, but their characters lacked payoff.
Neil Patrick Harris appears as a potentially funny character, but Seth MacFarlane seemed to be trying to come up with a million ways to beat the audience over the head with the fact that his character is a smarmy twit. Perhaps he was supposed to be an ancestor or Barney Stinson. He does actually utter the words “Challenge Accepted” at one point. Sarah Silverman seemed to be performing a stretched out skit from her Comedy Central show. If the film was trying to be meta, it fell flat.
Some of the jokes and commentary in the film are actually good, but the delivery misses the mark. If this films comes on the TV in a few years, this writer won’t desperately rush to change the channel or turn off the TV(it’s not a terrible movie), but she’ll likely have something better to do or watch. There are chuckles, but people will get more satisfying entertainment by sticking with the trailer.